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  • Thomas Newton

How to get acting auditions without an agent.


Short film festivals have long been a hub for creative talent, showcasing the best in independent cinema from around the globe. For new, inexperienced actors, these events can be a goldmine of opportunities to make connections, discover new projects, and potentially even audition for roles in upcoming films. In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of short film festivals and discuss how you can leverage them to further your acting career, ultimately answering the question, how to get acting auditions without an agent.

Finding and Attending Short Film Festivals

The first step in taking advantage of short film festivals is finding ones to attend. Research online or use sites like FilmFreeway and Withoutabox to find upcoming festivals, paying special attention to those that take place in your country of residence, focus on your area of interest or preferred genre. Once you've identified some events, take note of submission deadlines, fees, and any specific festival requirements.

Attending a short film festival is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of independent filmmaking. Watch as many short films as possible, attend panels and workshops, and network with other attendees. The more you engage, the better your chances of discovering films and directors that align with your tastes and ambitions.

Scouting Films and Directors

As you watch the short films at a festival, keep an eye out for projects and directors that resonate with you. Pay attention to the storytelling style, visual aesthetics, and themes of the films. Jot down notes and collect contact information for the filmmakers you'd like to follow up with. These could be potential collaborators in the future, so don't be afraid to approach them during the festival or at networking events.

Creating a Database to Track Your Connections

To help you keep track of the directors and their projects, create a simple Excel database using the following structure/columns:

  1. Director Name: The name of the director whose work you enjoyed.

  2. Film Title: The title of the short film you watched.

  3. Festival Name: The name of the festival where you saw the film.

  4. Festival Date: The date(s) of the festival.

  5. Email: The director's email address, if available.

  6. Social Media Handles: The director's social media handles on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

  7. Project Status: The current status of the director's upcoming projects (e.g., pre-production, casting, in development, etc.).

  8. Notes: Any additional notes or thoughts you have about the director, their work, or potential collaboration.

  9. Date Contacted: The date you reached out to the director to express your interest in collaborating or auditioning.

  10. Response: The director's response to your inquiry (e.g., no response, interested, not interested, audition invitation, etc.).

  11. Date To Reconnect: The date you plan on writing back to the director.

Using this Excel database, you can keep track of your interactions with directors and monitor your progress as you build relationships and seek audition opportunities. Make sure to update the database regularly with new information and connections you make at short film festivals.

This database will allow you to store important information, monitor your progress in building relationships, and track audition opportunities. Update it regularly as you attend more festivals and make new connections.

Reaching Out on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for actors looking to connect with filmmakers. After the festival, look up the directors you enjoyed on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Follow them and engage with their content in a genuine, non-intrusive way.

When reaching out to a filmmaker, be respectful and professional. Compliment their work and express your interest in collaborating with them. Ask about upcoming projects they might be working on and inquire about potential audition opportunities. Make sure to emphasise your acting background and any relevant experience that might make you a good fit for their projects.

Building Relationships and Auditioning

The ultimate goal of attending short film festivals and connecting with directors is to audition for their projects. Keep in mind that building relationships takes time and patience. Be persistent but not pushy, and remember that you're trying to establish a genuine connection that could lead to future opportunities.

If you're invited to audition, be prepared and professional. Research the project and the director's previous work, memorise your lines, and rehearse your performance. Treat every audition as an opportunity to showcase your talent and dedication.

Treat It like A Job

In approaching this strategy, it is essential for actors to treat it with the same level of commitment and professionalism as they would a traditional job search. Dedicate at least one day a week to updating your database, researching new directors, and reaching out to potential collaborators. Tailor your approach and messages to each director, showcasing your genuine interest in their work and emphasising your unique qualities as an actor. Experiment with different tactics and communication styles until you find a successful approach that yields positive responses and audition opportunities. Remember, persistence and adaptability are key to making the most of this technique and ultimately propelling your acting career forward in the competitive world of independent filmmaking.


The potential of short films showcased at festivals should not be underestimated, as many short films go on to win prestigious awards. As an actor, landing a role in a critically acclaimed short film could lead to accolades such as "Best Actor" or "Best Actress" at various film festivals. Achieving recognition through these awards can be a significant milestone in your acting career, signalling the ideal moment to approach talent agents for representation. (Some short films receive funding to go on to create the feature length version of the short).

When reaching out to agents, highlight your achievements, including any awards or recognition received for your performances in short films. This demonstrates your potential and commitment to the craft, increasing the likelihood of securing representation.

Another advantage is a key factor in kickstarting an acting career is a high-quality showreel. A well-crafted showreel allows you to showcase your range and versatility as an actor, making it an invaluable tool when promoting yourself to agents and casting directors. By participating in well-produced short films, you can ensure that your showreel contains high-quality footage that effectively demonstrates your skills and screen presence. As you continue to land roles in short films, you'll not only be enhancing your resume but also continually improving your showreel, further increasing your chances of success in the competitive world of acting. Having gone through the casting process to land a role within a short film will mean the role will also suit your 'casting type', this will further strengthen your showreel and ensure future roles


Short film festivals offer a unique opportunity for new actors to discover independent filmmakers, connect with them on social media, and potentially audition for upcoming projects. By attending festivals, taking note of your favourite films and directors, creating a database to track your connections, and reaching out to them through social media, you can create a network of potential collaborators that could help launch your acting career. So get out there, attend some short film festivals, and start making those connections! With persistence and dedication, you'll increase your chances of finding audition opportunities and ultimately, furthering your career in the world of independent filmmaking.

Join Us At MN

If you're looking to sharpen your acting skills and elevate your performance, consider enrolling in MN Academy's screen acting classes. Our experienced instructors offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers everything from audition techniques to on-screen presence, ensuring you're fully prepared for your next role. At MN Academy, we believe in fostering a supportive and collaborative environment, allowing you to grow and learn alongside other passionate actors. Take the first step towards mastering the art of screen acting and transforming your passion into a rewarding career by joining our classes today. Visit our website for more information on our course offerings and to register for an upcoming session.


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